Very sad to learn that science fiction author Michael F. Flynn has died. I’ll have more to say at the blog. Here’s Mike (center) with “bloggers in arms” Matt Briggs @FamedCelebrity and me in NYC a decade ago. pic.twitter.com/JFQ57z7ZMH
— Edward Feser (@FeserEdward) October 2, 2023
Michael Francis Flynn, long known to friends of the blog as Ye Olde Statistician, or just YOS, died Saturday morning. God speed him, God rest him, God bless him. (Thanks to Anon for the news and picture above.)
Mike was born in 1947 and, as his charming Wiki entry says, he “died at his childhood home on 30 September 2023.” Which was in Easton, Pennsylvania. Not a bad way to go.
From an email from Anon:
His daughter posted the news on Facebook. Here is what she said, “Hello family, friends & fans of Michael Flynn. This is his daughter Sara. I’m sorry to tell you that my father passed away this morning. He was sleeping peacefully in the childhood home that he loved, the home his father built. We will share more details when we have them. Thank you.”
So well that he teamed up with masters Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven to write the satire Fallen Angels.
He has a new novel that will be out in May next year (!): In the Belly of the Whale. Let’s hope they move the date up.
YOS had his own blog, of course, and we have linked to it many times. Most recently in the article, “Reconciling Mike Flynn & Fr Ripperger On Evolution: Creation or Completion of New Essences?” Do not miss his series “The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown“—from which I had the idea he was expanding into a book. If this is so, I hope his family manages to publish it.
I say nothing more about these, because I am sure others will do a far better job. Even YOS himself, as in this revealing interview. Let’s instead take a look at YOS’s brilliant comments.
When I saw YOS had taken hold of a conversation in a post, I would often close my eyes to the post for a day or two until the comments quieted down, then I’d go back and read YOS’s all at once. I learned a great deal from him, especially when I made mistakes.
You use the blog’s search function for “Ye Olde Statistician“, and that gives some hits, but not, alas, from the comments. Since I have access to the dashboard I can search comments—of which YOS made thousands. I don’t know of a way to open that up to everybody, which is a pity, since you have to find posts in which YOS would take an interest—theology and the philosophy of evidence, usually—and then search the comments for his name.
Or you can try the woke search engine using the term in quotes, like this. Works to a reasonable extent. For no good reason I can discern, the first result (for me, anyway) is his comment on the post “Work Of A Young Set Theorist“. From ten years ago.
Since there are thousands of comments, there’s no way I can do justice to YOS’s contributions. Except to note they were monumental.
His first appearance was back in 2012 from a post on a book review from yet another author who argues that if only people knew they could not make choices they would make better choices. Here is his first comment, pithy and packed:
The will is an appetite or desire for products of the intellect. (Similar to the emotions, or “sensitive appetites,” which are desires for the products of perception.)
As such, and contra Nietzsche, the intellect is prior to the will. We cannot desire something we do not know.
If our knowledge is imperfect, our will is unconstrained to any one outcome. Example: world peace. Unless we know exactly what this “looks like” and how it must be attained, the will is free of any determination to any particular means. OTOH, where knowledge is perfect, as that 1+1=2 in normal arithmetic, the will is completely determined toward one end and cannot withhold its consent.
Hence, the freedom of the will is a direct consequence of the imperfection of knowledge.
I could go on quoting comments, but most of YOS’s comments were post length. Which is how we were all able to learn so much from him. Here’s another example in a post on St Anselm’s ontological argument, which I show as an image to show his attention to detail:
How about a discourse on instrumentation, crucial in the philosophy of science, from the 2016 post “How To Make An Atheist Cry“?
How about support for induction being our most important form of reasoning?
If you like that, you’ll love his thoughts on the post “There Can Be No Consistent Atheist System Of Morality Or Ethics”.
Like I said, I could go on all day like this. Thank God for that, because we won’t be meeting YOS anytime again soon.
Subscribe or donate to support this site and its wholly independent host using credit card click here. Or use the paid subscription at Substack. Cash App: $WilliamMBriggs. For Zelle, use my email: email@example.com, and please include yours so I know who to thank.